Imágenes de páginas
PDF

Threw them on the ground before him,
Thus exclaim:ing and explaining:
“Red side up are all the pleces,
And one great Kenabeek standing
On the bright side of a brass piece,
On a burnished Ozawabeek;
Thirteen tens and eight are counted.”
Then again he shook the pieces,
Shook and jostled them together,
Threw them on the ground before him.
Still exclaiming and explaining :
“White are both the great Kenabeeks.
White the Inine wug, the wedge-men,
Red are all the other pieces:
Five tens and an eight are counted.”
Thus he taught the game of hazard,
Thus displayed it and cxplained it,
Running through its various chances,
Various changes, various meanings:
Twenty curious eyes stared at him,
Full of eagerness stared at him.
“Many games,” said old Iagoo,
“Many games of skill and hazard,
IIave I seen in different nations.
Have I played in different countries.
He who plays with old Iagoo
Must have very nimble fingers;
Though you think yourself so skilful,
I can beat you, Pau-Puk-Keewis,
I can even give you lessons
In your game of Bowl and Counters!”
So they sat and played together,
All the old men and the young men,
Played for dresses, weapons, waimpum,
Played till midnight, played till morning,
Played until the Yenidizze,
Till the cunning Pau-Puk-Keewis,
Of their treasures had despoiled them,
Of the best of all their dresses,
Shirts of deer-skin, robes of ermine,
13elts of wampum, crests of feathers,
Warlike weapons, pipes and pouches,
Twenty eyes glared wildly at him,
Like the eyes of wolves glared at him.
Said the lucky Pau-Puk-Keewis:
“In my wigwam I am lonely,
In my wanderings and adventures
I have need of a companion,
Fain would have a Meshinauwa,
An attendant and pipe-bearer.
I will venture all these winnings,
All these garments heaped about me,
All this wanpum, all these feathers,
On a single throw will venture
All against the young man yonder!”
‘Twas a youth of sixteen summers,
"Twas a nephew of Iagoo:
Face-in-a-Mist, the people called him.
As the fire burns in a pipe-head
I)usky red beneath the ashes,
So beneath his shaggy eyebrows
Glowed the eyes of old Iagoo.
“ Ugh !” he answered very fiercely :
“ Ugh !” they answered, all and each one.
Scized the wooden bowl the old man,
Closely in his bony fingers
Clutched the fatal bowl. Onagon,
Shook it fiercely and with fury,
Made the picces ring together
As he threw them down before him.
Red were both the great Kenabecks,
Red the Iminewug, the wedge-men,
Red the Sheshebwug, the ducklings,
Black the four brass Ozawabeeks,
White alone the fish, the Keego;
Only five the pieces counted:
Then the smiling Pau-Puk-Keewis
Shook the bowl and threw the pieces;
Lightly in the air he tossed them.
And they fell about him scattered;
I)ark and bright the Ozawabeeks,
Red and white the other pieces,
.And upright among the others

One Ininewug was standing,
Even as crafty Pau-Puk-Keew’s
Stood alone among the players,
Saying, “Five tens! mine the guine is ' '
Twenty eyes glared at him fiercely,
Like the eyes of wolves glared at him,
.A.; h; turned and left the wigwam,
Followed by his Meshillauwa.
13 y : he nephew of Iagoo,
By the tall and graceful stripling,
Bearing in his arms the winnings.
Shirts of decr-skin, robes of eruline,
Belts of wampuun, pipes, and weapons.
“Carry them,” said Pau-Puk-Keewis,
Pointing with his fan of feathers,
To my wigwam far to eastward,
On the dunes of Nagow Wudjoo !”
Hot and red with smoke and gambling
Were the eyes of Pau-Puk-Keewis,
As he came forth to the freshness
Of the pleasant summer morning.
All the birds were singing gaily,
All the streamlets flowing swiftly,
And the heart of Pau-Puk-Keewis
Sang with pleasure as the birds sing.
Beat with triumph like the streamlets,
As he wandered through the village,
In the early grey of morning,
With his fan of turkey-feathers,
With his plumes and tufts of swan's-down,
Till he reached the farthest wigwam,
Reached the lodge of Hiawatha.
Silent was it and deserted :
No one met him at the doorway,
No one came to bid him welcome :
But the birds were singing round it,
In and out and round the doorway.
IHopping, singing, fiuttering, feeding,
And aloft upon the ridge-pole
Kahgahgee, the King of Ravens,
Sat with fiery eyes, and, screaming,
Flapped his wings at Pau-Puk-Keewis.

[ocr errors]

Thus it was spake Pau-Puk-Keewis,
In his heart resolving mischief;
“Gone is wary Hiawatha,
Gone the silly Laughing Water,
Gone Nokomis, the old woman,
And the lodge is left unguarded !"
By the neck he seized the raven,
Whirled it round him like a rattle,
Like a medicine-pouch he shook it,
Strangled Kahgahgoe, the raven,
From the ridge-pole of the wigwam
Left its lifeless body hanging,
As an insult to its master,
As a taunt to Hiawatha.
With a stealthy step he entered, ,
Round the lodge in wild disorder
Threw the household things about him,
Piled together in confusion
Bowls of wood and earthen kettles,
Robes of buffalo and heaver,
Skins of otter, lynx, nnd crimine,
As an insult to Nokomis,
As a taunt to Minnehaha.
Then departed Pau-Puk-Keewis,
Whistling, singing, through the forest,
Whistling gaily io the squirrels,
Who from hollow boughs above him
Dropped their acorn-shells upon him,
Singing gaily to the wood-birds,
Who from out the leafy darkness
Answered with a song as merry.
Then he climbed the rocky headlands,
Looking o'er the Gitche Gumee,
Perched himself upon their summit,
Waiting full of mirth and mischief
The return of Hiawatha.
Stretched upon his back he lay there:
Far below him plashed the waters,
Plashed and washed the dreamy waters

Far above him swam the heavens,

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors][merged small]

NEveR stoops the soaring vulture
On his quarry in the desert,
On the sick or wounded bison,
But another vulture. watching
From his high aerial look-out,
Sees the downward plunge, and follows:
And a third pursues the second,
Coming from the invisible ether,
First a speck, and then a vulture,
Till the air is dark with pinions.
So disasters come not singly ;
But as if they watched and waited,
Scanning one another's motions,
When the first descends, the others
Follow, follow, gathering flock-wise
Round their victim, sick and wounded,
First a shodow, then a sorrow,
Till the air is dark with anguish.
Now o'er all the dreary Northland,
Mighty Peboan, the Winter,
Breathing on the lakes and rivers,
Into stone had changed their waters.
From his hair he shook the snow-flakes,
Till the plains were strewn with whiteness,
One uninterrupted level,
As if, stooping, the Creator
With his land had smoothed the in over.
Through the forest, wide and wailing,
Roamed the hunter on his snow-shoes:
In the village worked the women,
Pounded maize, or dressed the deer-skim ;
And the young men played together
On the ice the noisy ball-play,
On the plain the dance of snow-shoes.
One dark evening, after sundown,
In her wigwam Laughing Water
Sat with old Nokomis waiting
For the steps of Hiawatha
Homeward from the hunt returning.
On their faces gleamed the sire light,
Painting them with streaks of crimson,
In the eyes of old Nokomis
Glimmered like the watery moonlight,
In the eyes of Laughing Water
Glistened like the sun in water;
And behind them crouched their shadows
In the corners of the wigwam,
And the smoke in wreaths above them
Climbed and crowded through the smoke-fluc.
Then the curtain of the doorway
From without was slowly lifted:
Brighter glowed the fire a moment,
And a moment swerved the smoke-wreath,
As two women entered softly,
Passed the doorway uninvited
Without word of salutation,
Without sign of recognition.
Sat down in the farthest corner,
Crouching low among the shadows. -
From their aspeet and their garments
Strangers seemed they in the village;
Very pate and haggard were they,
As they sat there sad and silent,

Trembling, cowering with the shadows.
Was it the wind above the smoke-flue
Muttering down into the wigwam :
Was it the owl, the Koko-koho,
IHooting from the dismal forest ?
Sure a voice said in the silence:
“These are corpses clad in garments,
These are ghosts that come to haunt you.
From the kingdom of Ponemah,
From the land of the Hereafter!”
Homeward now came Hiawatha
From his hunting in the forest,
With the snow upon his tresses,
And the red-deer on his shoulders,
At the feet of Laughing Water
Down he threw his lifeless burden :
Nobler, handsomer she thought him,
Than when first he came to woo her,
First threw down the deer before her,
As a token of his wishes,
As a promise of the future.
Then he turned and saw the strangers.
Cowering, crouching with the shadows:
Said within himself, “Who are they 2
What strange guests has Minnehaha P"
3ut he questioned not the strangers,
Only späke to bid them welcome
To his lodge, his food, his fireside.
When the evening meal was ready,
And the deer had been divided,
Both the pallid guests, the strangers,
Springing from among the shadows,
Seized upon the choicest portions,
Seized the white fat of the roe-buck,
Set apart for Laughing Water,
For the wife of Hiawatha :
Without asking, without thanking,
Eagerly devoured the morsels,
Flitted back among the shadows
In the corner of the wigwain.
Not a word spake Hiawatha,
Not a motion made Nokomis,
Not a gesture Laughing Water:
Not a change came o'er their features,
Only Minnehaha softly
Whispered, saying, “They are fannishes!.
Let them do what best delights them :
Let them eat, for they are famished.”
Many a daylight dawned and darkenied,
Many a night shook off the day-light
As the pine shakes off the snow-flakes
From the midnight of its branches:
Day by day the guests unmoving
Sat there silent in the wigwam:
3ut by night, in storm or starlight,
Forth they went into the forest,
Bringing fire-wood to the wigwam,
Bringing pine-cones for the burning,
Always sad and always silent.
And whenever Hiawatha
Came from fishing or from hunting,
When the evening meal was ready,
And the food had been divided,
Gliding from their darksome corner
Came the pallid guests, the strangers,
Seized upon the choicest portions
Set aside for Laughing Water,
And without rebuke or question
Flitted back among the shadows.
Never once had Hiawatha
By a word or look reproved them;
Never once had old Nokomis
Made a gesture of impatience:
Never once had Laughing Water
Shown resentment at the outrage.
All had they endured in silence,
That the rights of guest and strange",
That the virtue of free-giving,
By a look might not be lessened,
Poy a word might not be broken.
Once at midnight Hiawatha,
Ever wakeful, ever watchful,
In the wigwam, dimly lighted,

« AnteriorContinuar »