Home  »  A Library of American Literature  »  The Story of an Indian Brave

Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

The Story of an Indian Brave

By Joseph Story (1779–1845)

[From a Letter to Mrs. Story in the Life and Letters.]

THE CHIEFS stood up, and each in turn made a short speech to the President, which was in like manner interpreted. Their gestures and actions were very strong and marked,—their language emphatic, and though badly interpreted, there was now and then a flash of native eloquence, or beautiful figures which surprised us. Nothing could exceed the masculine cast of their forms, or the bold, decisive character of their movements. They appeared under no embarrassment or fear, and some of them spoke with the air of monarchs. I was particularly impressed by one young man of a fine countenance, of whom I heard a very striking story. He observed, in his speech, that his father was a great warrior, and that he was dead, and that he in turn hoped to be a great warrior. His father was like the old grass dried up and withered, but from the roots he hoped would spring up a new crop. He said this with great modesty and firmness. The story respecting him is this: A young female Indian had been taken by some hostile tribe, and was condemned to death, and tied to a stake to be burned. He heard of it,—prepared two swift and excellent horses, tied them to a tree at a short distance, and suddenly, at the very moment the fire was putting to the pile, he broke forth, rushed to the stake, untied the female, and carried her off in triumph to the place where the horses were tied, put her on one of them, and rode thirty or forty miles with her, then directed her the way to her own tribe, and gave her the horse on which she rode. The assembly were astonished at his boldness, and so struck with it, that they were unable to gather courage to interfere when he rescued the victim. They looked on in astonishment, and thought that he might be some one sent by the Great Spirit, and not a mere mortal. He therefore was not overtaken in his journey, and now lives to enjoy the gratitude and admiration of the whole tribe.