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- Tecumseh: A Drama - 6/21 -


Their fathers' fields, and swallow their own offspring.

_Enter the_ PROPHET _in his robe--his face discoloured_.

The Prophet! Welcome, my brother, from the lodge of dreams! Hail to thee, sagest among men--great heir Of all the wisdom of Pengasega!

PROPHET. This pale-face here again! this hateful snake, Who crawls between our people and their laws! (_Aside_.) Your greeting, brother, takes the chill from mine, When last we parted you were not so kind.

TECUMSEH. The Prophet's wisdom covers all. He knows Why Nature varies in her handiwork, Moulding one man from snow, the next from fire--

PROPHET. Which temper is your own, and blazes up, In winds of passion like a burning pine.

TECUMSEH. 'Twill blaze no more unless to scorch our foes. My brother, there's my hand--for I am grieved That aught befell to shake our proper love. Our purpose is too high, and full of danger; We have too vast a quarrel on our hands To waste our breath on this.

[_Steps forward and offers his hand_.]

PROPHET. My hand to yours.

SEVERAL CHIEFS. Tecumseh and the Prophet are rejoined!

TECUMSEH. Now, but one petty cloud distains our sky. My brother, this man loves our people well.

[_Pointing to_ LEFROY.]

LEFROY. I know he hates me, yet I hope to win My way into his heart.

PROPHET. There--take my hand! I must dissemble. Would this palm were poison! (_Aside_.) (_To_ TECUMSEH) What of the Wyandots? And yet I know! I have been up among the clouds, and down Into the entrails of the earth, and seen The dwelling-place of devils. All my dreams Are from above, and therefore favour us.

TECUMSEH. With one accord the Wyandots disclaim The treaties of Fort Wayne, and burn with rage. Their tryst is here, and some will go with me To Council at Vincennes. Where's Winnemac?

MIAMI CHIEF. That recreant has joined our enemies, And with the peace-pipe sits beside their fire, And whins away our lives.

KICKAPOO CHIEF. The Deaf-Chief, too, With head awry, who cannot hear us speak Though thunder shouted for us from the skies, Yet hears the Long-Knives whisper at Vincennes; And, when they jest upon our miseries, Grips his old leathern sides, and coughs with laughter.

DELAWARE CHIEF. And old Kanaukwa--famed when we were young-- Has hid his axe, and washed his honours off.

TECUMSEH. 'Tis honor he has parted with, not honors; Good deeds are ne'er forespent, nor wiped away. I know these men; they've lost their followers, And, grasping at the shadow of command, Where sway and custom once had realty, By times, and turn about, follow each other. They count for nought--but Winnemac is true, Though over-politic; he will not leave us.

PROPHET. Those wizened snakes must be destroyed at once!

TECUMSEH. Have mercy, brother--those poor men are old.

PROPHET. Nay, I shall teaze them till they sting themselves; Their rusty fangs are doubly dangerous.

TECUMSEH. What warriors are ready for Vincennes?

WARRIORS. All! All are ready. Tecumseh leads us on--we follow him.

TECUMSEH. Four hundred warriors will go with me, All armed, yet only for security Against the deep designs of Harrison. For 'tis my purpose still to temporize, Not break with him in war till once again I scour the far emplacements of our tribes. Then shall we close at once on all our foes. They claim our lands, but we shall take their lives; Drive out their thievish souls, and spread their bones To bleach upon the misty Alleghanies; Or make death's treaty with them on the spot, And sign our bloody marks upon their crowns For lack of schooling--ceding but enough Of all the lands they covet for their graves.

MIAMI CHIEF. Tecumseh's tongue is housed in wisdom's cheeks; His valour and his prudence march together.

DELAWARE CHIEF. 'Tis wise to draw the distant nations on. This scheme will so extend the Long-Knife force, In lines defensive stretching to the sea, Their bands will be but morsels for our braves.

PROPHET. How long must this bold project take to ripen? Time marches with the foe, and his surveyors Already smudge our forests with their fires. It frets my blood and makes my bowels turn To see those devils blaze our ancient oaks, Cry "right!" and drive their rascal pickets down. Why not make war on them at once?

TECUMSEH. Not now! Time will make room for weightier affairs. Be this the disposition for the hour: Our warriors from Vincennes will all return, Save twenty--the companions of my journey-- And this brave white, who longs to share our toil, And win his love by deeds in our defence. You, brother, shall remain to guard our town, Our wives, our children, all that's dear to us-- Receive each fresh accession to our strength; And from the hidden world, which you inspect, Draw a divine instruction for their souls. Go, now, ye noble chiefs and warriors! Make preparation--I'll be with you soon. To-morrow we shall make the Wabash boil, And beat its current, racing to Vincennes.

[_Exeunt all but_ TECUMSEH _and the_ PROPHET.]

PROPHET. I shall return unto our sacred lodge, And there invoke the Spirit of the Wind To follow you, and blow good tidings back.

TECUMSEH. Our strait is such we need the help of heaven. Use all your wisdom, brother, but--beware! Pluck not our enterprise while it is green, And breed no quarrel here till I return. Avoid it as you would the rattling snake; And, when you hear the sound of danger, shrink, And face it not, unless with belts of peace. White wampum, not the dark, till we can strike With certain aim. Can I depend on you?

PROPHET. Trust you in fire to burn, or cold to freeze? So may you trust in me. The heavy charge Which you have laid upon my shoulders now Would weigh the very soul of rashness down.

[_Exit the_ PROPHET.]

TECUMSEH. I think I can depend on him--I must! Yet do I know his crafty nature well-- His hatred of our foes, his love of self, And wide ambition. What is mortal man? Who can divine this creature that doth take Some colour from all others? Nor shall I Push cold conclusions 'gainst my brother's sum Of what is good--so let dependence rest!

[_Exit_.]

SCENE SECOND--VINCENNES--A STREET.

_Enter Citizens_ GERKIN, SLAUGH and TWANG.

GERKIN. Ain't it about time Barron was back, Jedge?

TWANG. I reckon so. Our Guvner takes a crazy sight more pains than I would to sweetin thet ragin' devil Tecumseh's temper. I'd sweetin it wi' sugar o lead ef I had _my_ way.

SLAUGH. It's a reekin' shame--dang me ef it aint. End thet two-faced, one-eyed brother o' his, the Prophet.--


Tecumseh: A Drama - 6/21

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