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features as composed as if he had been parading the quarter-deck of the guardship in Portsmouth Harbor. No one, save the captain, first lieutenant, and corporal, knew the ship to be on fire, until every man was at his post.
How long the fire had been burning was never ascertained. Suffice it to say, had it not been for its opportune discovery, the ship would have been blown up, and every soul on board hurried
ato eternity. It was equally fortunate that the ship was commanded by a man possessing all the firmness, coolness, and presence of mind, requisite to control and direct on such an awful occasion. Had the corporal, instead of acting according to the orders on the fire-bill, given the alarm of “Fire in the foresailroom," those in their hammocks would have been so panicstricken, knowing the proximity of the sail-room to the magazine, that neither threats nor persuasion of any description would have tended to recall their self-possession. Thus, a splendid ship and a gallant crew were saved by the force of discipline.
Deeds of Naval Daring.
COURAGE. In the autumn of 1823, Governor Duval, and other commissioners on the part of the United States, concluded a treaty with the chiefs and warriors of the Florida Indians, by which the latter, for certain considerations, yielded all claims to the whole territory, excepting a district in the eastern part, to which they were to remove, and within which they were to reside for twenty years. Several of the chiefs signed the treaty with great reluctance ; but none opposed it more strongly than Neamathla, principal chief of the Mickasookies, a fierce and warlike people, many of them Creeks by origin, who lived about the Mickasookie lake. Neamathla had always been active in those depredations of the frontiers of Georgia which had brought vengeance and ruin on the Seminoles.
For two months everything went on smoothly; the Indians - repaired daily to the log cabin palace of the governor, at Talla' hassee, and appeared perfectly contented. All at once they gave up their visits, and for three or four days not one was to be
Governor Duval began to be apprehensive that some mischief was brewing.
Accordingly, on the next morning he set off on horseback, attended merely by a white man who had been reared among the Seminoles, and understood their language and manners, and who acted as interpreter. They struck into an Indian “trail,” leading to Neamathla’s village. After proceeding about half a mile, Governor Duval informed the interpreter of the object of his expedition. The latter, though a bold man, paused and remonstrated. The Indians among whom they were going were among the most desperate and discontented of the nation. Many of them were veteran warriors, impoverished and exasperated by defeat, and ready to set their lives at any hazard. He said that if they were holding a war-council, it must be with desperate intent, and it would be certain death to intrude among them.
Duval repeated his determination to go on, but advised the other to return, lest his pale face should betray fear to the Indians, and they might take advantage of it. The interpreter replied that he would rather die a thousand deaths than have it said he had deserted his leader when in peril.
They now rode into the village and advanced to the council. house. This was rather a group of four houses, forming a square, in the centre of which was a great council-fire. The houses were open in front toward the fire, and closed in the rear. At each corner of the square there was an interval between the houses for ingress and egress. In these houses sat the old men and the chiefs; the young men were gathered round the fire. Neamathla presided at the council, elevated on a higher seat than the rest.
Governor Duval entered by one of the corner spaces, and rode boldly into the centre of the square. The young men made way for him ; an old man who was speaking paused in the midst of his harangue. In an instant thirty or forty rifles were cocked and levelled. Never had Duval heard so loud a click of triggers ; it seemed to strike to his heart. He gave one glance at the Indians, and turned off with an air of contempt. He did not dare, he says, to look again, lest it might affect his nerves; and on the firmness of his nerves everything depended.
The chief threw up his arms. The rifles were lowered. Duval breathed more freely; he felt disposed to leap from his horse, but restrained himself, and dismounted leisurely. He then walked deliberately up to Neamathla, and demanded, in an authoritative tone, what were his motives for holding that council. The moment he made this demand the orator sat down. The chief made no reply, but hung his head in apparent confusion. After a moment's
pause, Duval proceeded: “I am well aware of the meaning of this war-co
-council, and deem it my duty to warn you against prosecuting the schemes you have been devising. If a single hair of a white man in this country falls to the ground, I will hang you and your chiefs on the trees around your council-house. You cannot pretend to withstand the power of the white men. You are in the palm of the hand of your great father at Washington, who can crush you like an egg-shell. You may kill me-I am but one man; but recollect, white men are numerous as the leaves on the trees. Remember the fate of your warriors whose bones are whitening in battle-fields. Remember your wives and children who perished in swamps.
you want to provoke more hostilities ? Another war with the white men, and there will not be a Seminole left to tell the story of his race.”
Seeing the effect of his words, he concluded by appointing a day for the Indians to meet him at St. Mark's, and give an account of their conduct.
A grand talk was now held, in which the late conspiracy was discussed. As he had foreseen, Neamathla and the other old chiefs threw all the blame upon the young men. “Well,” replied Duval, “with us white men, when we find a man incompetent to govern those under him we put him down, and appoint another in his place. Now, as you all acknowledge you cannot manage your young men, we must put chiefs over them who can.”
So saying, he deposed Neamatbla first; appointing another in his place ; and so on with all the rest, taking care to substitute the warriors who had been pointed out to him as poor and popular ; putting medals round their necks, and investing them with great ceremony. The Indians were surprised and delighted at finding the appointments fall upon the very men they would themselves have chosen, and hailed them with acclamations. The warriors thus unexpectedly elevated to command, and clothed with dignity, were secured to the interests of the governor, and sure to keep an eye on the disaffected. As to the great chief Neamathla, he left the country in disgust, and returned to the Creek nation, who elected him a chief of one of their towns.
Thus, by the resolute spirit and prompt sagacity of one man, a dangerous conspiracy was completely defeated. Governor Duval was afterwards enabled to remove the whole nation, through his own personal influence, without the aid of the general government.
A LITTLE more than a century ago, this beautiful region,* watered by its stream, was possessed by a small tribe of Indians, which has long since become extinct, or incorporated with some other savage
nation of the west. Three or four hundred yards from the stream, a white family of the name of Stacy had established itself in a log-house, by tacit permission of the tribe, to whom Stacy had made himself useful by his skill in a variety of little arts highly estimated by the savages.
In particular, a friendship subsisted between him and an old Indian, called Naoman, who often came to his house and partook of his hospitality. The Indians seldom forgive injuries or forget benefits. The family consisted of Stacy, his wife, and two children, a boy and a girl, the former five, the latter three years old.
One day Naoman came to Stacy's log-hut in his absence, lighted his pipe, and sat down. He looked very serious, some times sighed deeply, but said not a word. Stacy's wife asked him what was the matter? Was he sick ? He shook his head, sighed, but said nothing, and soon went away.
The next day he came again, and behaved in the same manner. Stacy's wife thought this behaviour strange, and related it to her husband, who advised her to urge the old man to an explanation the next time he came. Accordingly, when he repeated his visit the day after, she was more importunate than usual. At last the old Indian said, “I am a red man, and the pale
* Duchess County, New York.
faces are our enemies : why should I speak ?” “But my
husband and I are your friends; you have eaten salt with us a thousand times, and my children have sat on your knee as often. If you have anything on your mind, tell it to me."
“It will cost me my life, if it is known, and the white-faced women are not good at keeping secrets,” replied Naoman. me, and see." Will you swear, by your Great Spirit, that you will tell none but
your husband ?” I have none else to tell.” “But will you swear ?” “I do swear, by our Great Spirit, that I will tell none but
my husband.” * Not if my tribe should kill you for not telling ?” “Not if your tribe should kill me for not telling."
Naoman then proceeded to tell her that, owing to some encroachments of the white people below the mountains, his tribe had become irritated, and were resolved that night to massacre all the white settlers within their reach; that she must send for her husband, inform him of the danger, and as secretly and speedily as possible take their canoe, and paddle with all baste over the river to Fishkill for safety. “Be quick, and do nothing that
may excite suspicion,” said Naoman. The good wife sought her husband, who was down on the river fishing, told him the story, and, as no time was to be lost, they proceeded to their boat, which was unluckily filled with water. It took some time to clear it out, and, meanwhile, Stacy recollected his gun, which had been left behind. He proceeded to the house, and returned with it. All this took up time, and precious time it proved to this poor family.
The daily visits of old Naoman, and his more than ordinary gravity, had excited suspicion in some of the tribe, who had, accordingly, paid particular attention to the movements of Stacy. One of the young Indians, who had been kept on the watch, seeing the whole family about to take to the boat, ran to the little Indian village, about a mile off, and gave the alarm.
Five Indians collected, ran down to the river where their canoes were moored, jumped in, and paddled after Stacy, who by this time had got some distance out into the stream. They gained on him so fast, that twice he dropped his paddle and took up
But his wife prevented his shooting, by telling him that, if he