Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Southward Ho! A Spell of Sunshine >> Chapter XVII / Legend of Missouri: Or, The Captive of the Pawnee >> Page 410

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Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Transcription 410 SOUTHWARD HO CHAPTER II.
THE Omahas, on the other band, had their favorite auguries also, and the response from their gods was not dissimilar to that which had been given to the Pawnees. It said that the nation
should infallibly succeed in the campaign, which should receive
the first blow. But nothing was said of captivity. Similar, but
in conflict, were the predictions. In both cases, as in battles usually, everything was made to depend upon the first blow. While, therefore, the policy of the Pawnees was to escape from everything like conflict, that of the Omahas was to provoke action and hurry into danger. Their warriors assembled, accordingly, at all points, and issued from their lodges and towns, taking the trail for the enemy's country. This they soon penetrated. But the Pawnees were very wary. They stood only on the defensive, and wholly avoided action ; retreated before equal numbers, and simply contented themselves with keeping out of danger, while keeping the Omahas for ever vigilant. Their caution, which was a very unwonted virtue, provoked the Omahas to desperation. Their effrontery was prodigious. They exposed themselves to the shaft on all occasions, rushing beneath the fastnesses of the Pawnees, striking their naked breasts, and defying their enemies to shoot. But the latter lay perdu, quietly, if not calmly, looking on, and apparently satisfied to keep their towns and camps in safety. They neither invited attack nor awaited it, and resolutely avoided giving�what the
Omahas solicited� that first blow ! It is true that the young
Pawnee braves felt sorely the necessity to which they were required to submit. Bitterly, in their hearts, they cursed the decree which kept them inactive ; forced to submit to taunts, reproaches, and invectives, from a people whom they loathed, and affected to despise. It was scarcely possible to restrain the young Pawnee bloods under such severe trials of their temper ; � but the voice of the priesthood was paramount ; and, blindly believing that safety lay only in their predictions, they were persuaded to suspend the thirst of blood, and to substitute subtlety for valor. To circumvent the enemy�to make the captive, �not to slay, not even to wound : this was the great duty and the eager desire with the warriors of the Pawnee.