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To Have and To Hold
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XXXIII. In Which My Friend Becomes My Foe
IN the centre of the wigwam the customary fire burned clear and bright, showing
the white mats, the dressed skins, the implements of war hanging upon the bark
walls, - all the usual furniture of an Indian dwelling, - and showing also
Nantauquas standing against the stripped trunk of a pine that pierced the
wigwam from floor to roof. The fire was between us. He stood so rigid, at his full
height, with folded arms and head held high, and his features were so blank and
still, so forced and frozen, as it were, into composure, that, with the red light
beating upon him and the thin smoke curling above his head, he had the look of
a warrior tied to the stake.
"Nantauquas!" I exclaimed, and striding past the fire would have touched him but
that with a slight and authoritative motion of the hand he kept me back.
Otherwise there was no change in his position or in the dead calm of his face.
The Indian maid had dropped the mat at the entrance, and if she waited, waited
without in the darkness. Diccon, now staring at the young chief, now eyeing the
weapons upon the wall with all a lover's passion, kept near the doorway. Through
the thickness of the bark and woven twigs the wild cries and singing came to us
somewhat faintly; beneath that distant noise could be heard the wind in the trees
and the soft fall of the burning pine.
"Well!" I asked at last. "What is the matter, my friend?"
For a full minute he made no answer, and when he did speak his voice matched
"My friend," he said, "I am going to show myself a friend indeed to the English, to
the strangers who were not content with their own hunting grounds beyond the
great salt water. When I have done this, I do not know that Captain Percy will call
me 'friend' again."
"You were wont to speak plainly, Nantauquas," I answered him. "I am not fond of
Again he waited, as though he found speech difficult. I stared at him in
amazement, he was so changed in so short a time.
He spoke at last: "When the dance is over, and the fires are low, and the sunrise
is at hand, then will Opechancanough come to you to bid you farewell. He will
give you the pearls that he wears about his neck for a present to the Governor,
and a bracelet for yourself. Also he will give you three men for a guard through
the forest. He has messages of love to send the white men, and he would send
them by you who were his enemy and his captive. So all the white men shall
believe in his love."
"Well," I said dryly as he paused. "I will take his messages. What next?"
"Those are the words of Opechancanough. Now listen to the words of
Nantauquas, the son of Wahunsonacock, a war chief of the Powhatans. There
are two sharp knives there, hanging beneath the bow and the quiver and the
shield. Take them and hide them."
The words were scarcely out of his mouth before Diccon had the two keen
English blades. I took the one he offered me, and hid it in my doublet.