Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Southward Ho! A Spell of Sunshine >> Chapter XVII / Legend of Missouri: Or, The Captive of the Pawnee >> Page 406

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Page 406

Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Transcription 406 SOUTHWARD HO
generations, to whom the memory of the red man will be nothing
but a dream, doubtful in all its changes, and casting doubts upon
the sober history.
THE Pawnees and the Omahas were neighboring but hostile
nations. Their wars were perpetual, and this was clue to their
propinquity. It was the necessity of their nature and modes of
life. They hunted in the same forest ranges. They were con-
tending claimants for the same land and game. The successes
of the one in the chase, were so many wrongs done to the rights
of the other ; and every buck or bear that fell into the hands of
either party, was a positive loss of property to the other. That
they should hate, and fight, whenever they met, was just as
certain as that they should eat of the venison when the game
was taken. Every conflict increased the mutual hostility of the
parties. Successes emboldened the repetition of assault ; defeat
stimulated the desire for revenge. Every scalp which provoked
triumph in the conqueror, demanded a bloody revenge at the
hands of the vanquished; and thus they brooded over bloody fan-
cies when they did not meet, and met only to realize their bloody
dreams. It was soon evident to themselves, if it was not known
to other nations, that the war was one of annihilation � that
there could be no cessation of strife between them, until one of
the parties should tear the last scalp from the brows of his hate-
ful enemy.
Such a conviction, pressing equally upon the minds of both
people, forced upon them the exercise of all their arts, their sub-
tlety, their skill in circumventing their opponents, their savage
and unsparing ferocity when they obtained any advantages. It
prompted their devotions, also, to an intensity, which rendered
both races complete subjects of the most terrible superstitions.
Their priests naturally fed these superstitions, until war, which
is the usual passion of the red man, became their fanaticism.
Wild, mystical, horrid, were their midnight orgies and sacrifices ;
and, when they were not in battle when a breathing spell from
conflict had given them a temporary respite, in which to rebuild
and repair their burned and broken lodges, and store away the
provisions which were to serve them in new trials of strength,�