Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Southward Ho! A Spell of Sunshine >> Chapter XVII / Legend of Missouri: Or, The Captive of the Pawnee >> Page 408

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Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Transcription 408 SOUTHWARD HO
known to both Pawnee and Omaha. But, while these raged against each other, they took little heed of that approaching power under which both were to succumb. Its coming inspired no fear, while the hate for each other remained undiminished.
The autumn campaign was about to open, and the Pawnees and the Omahas were soon busy in their preparations for it. Before setting out upon the war-path, many things had to be done mystic, wild, solemn�by which to propitiate their gods, and consecrate their sacrifices. The youth of each nation, who had never yet taken the field, were each conveyed to the
Silent Lodges," where, for a certain time, under trials of hunger, thirst, and exposure, they were to go through a sort of sacred probation, during which their visions were to become auguries, and to shadow forth the duties and the events of their future career. This probation over, they took their part in solemn feast and council, in order to decide upon the most plausible plans of action, and to obtain the sanction and direction of the Great Spirit, as ascertained by their priests. You already possess some general idea of the horrid and unseemly rites which were held proper to these occasions. We are all, more or less familiar with that barbarous mummery, in which, on such occasions, most savages indulge ; blindly, and to us insanely, but having their own motives, and the greatest confidence in the efficacy of their rites. These proceedings lasted days and nights, and nothing was omitted, of their usual performances, which could excite the enthusiasm of the people, while strengthening their faith in their gods, their priesthood, and their destiny. In the deepest recesses of wood the incantations were carried on. Half naked, with bodies blackened and painted, the priests officiated before flaming altars of wood and brush. On these they piled native offerings. The fat of the bear and buffalo sent up reeking steams to the nostrils of their savage gods, mingled with gentler essences, aromatic scents, extracted from bruised or burning shrubs of strong odorous properties. 'I'lie atmosphere became impregnated with their fumes, and the audience�the worshippers, rather grew intoxicated as they inhaled. The priests were already intoxicated, drinking decoctions of acrid, bitter, fiery roots of the forests, the qualities of which they thoroughly knew. Filled with their