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Homeward then he sailed exulting,
Homeward through the black pitch-water,
Homeward through the weltering serpents,
With the trophies of the battle,
With a shout and song of triumph.
On the shore stood old Nokomis,
On the shore stood Chibiabos,
And the very strong man, Kwasind,
Waiting for the hero's coming,
Listening to his song of triumph.
And the people of the village
Welcomed him with songs and dances,
Made a joyous feast, and shouted :
" Honor be to Hiawatha !
He has slain the great Pearl-Feather,
Slain the mightiest of Magicians,
Him, who sent the fiery fever,
Sent the white fog from the fen-lands,
Sent disease and death among us!”
Ever dear to Hiawatha
Was the memory of Mama !
And in token of his friendship,
As a mark of his remembrance,
He adorned and decked his pipe-stem
With the crimson tuft of feathers,
With the blood-red crest of Mama.
But the wealth of Megissogwon,
All the trophies of the battle,
Ile divided with his people,
Shared it equally among them.
" As unto the bow the cord is,
So unto the man is woman,
Though she bends him, sbe obeys him,
Though she draws him, yet she follows,
Useless each without the other !”
Thus the youthful Hiawatha
Said within himself and pondered,
Much perplexed by various feelings,
Listless, longing, hoping, fearing,
Dreaming still of Minnehaha,
Of the lovely Laughing Water,
In the land of the Dacotahs.
“ Wed a maiden of your people,”
Warning said the old Nokomis;
“ Go not eastward, go not westward,
For a stranger, whom we know not !
Like a fire upon the hearth-stone
Is a neighbor's homely daughter,
Like the starlight or the moonlight
Is the handsomest of strangers !"
Thus dissuading spake Nokomis,
And my Hiawatha answered
Only this : “ Dear old Nokomis,
Very pleasant is the firelight,
But I like the starlight better,
Better do I like the moonlight !”
Gravely then said old Nokomis:
sBring not here an idle maiden,
Bring not here a useless woman,
Hands unskilful, feet unwilling;
Bring a wife with nimble tingers,
Heart and hand that move together,
Feet that run on willing errands !”
Smiling answered Hiawatha: - In the land of the Dacotahs Lives the Arrow-maker's daughter, Minnehaha, Laughing Water, llandsomest of all the women. I will bring her to your wigwam, She shall run upon your errands, Be your starlight, moonlight, tirelight, Be the sunlight of my people!”
Still dissuading said Nokomis :
Bring not to my lodge a stranger
From the land of the Dacotahs !
Very fierce are the Dacotahs,
Often is there war between us,
There are feuds yet unforgotten,
Wounds that ache and still may open!"
Laughing answered Hiawatha:
“For that reason, if no other,
Would I wed the fair Dacotah,
That our tribes might be united,
That old feuds might be forgotten,
And old wounds be healed forever!”
Thus departed Hiawatha
To the land of the Dacotahs,
To the land of handsome women;
Striding over moor and meadow,
Through interminable forests,
Through uninterrupted silence.
With his moccasins of magic,
At each stride a mile he measured;
Yet the way seemed long before him,
And his heart outran his footsteps ;
And he journeyed without resting,
Till he heard the cataract's laughter,
Heard the Falls of Minnehaha
Calling to him through the silence.
“ Pleasant is the sound !” he murmured,
* Pleasant is the voice that calls me !"
On the outskirts of the forest,
Twixt the shadow and the sunshine,
Herds of fallow deer were feeding,
But they saw not Iliawatha ;
To his bow he whispered, “ Fail not !”.
To his arrow whispered, “ Swerve not !”
Sent it singing on its errand,
To the red heart of the roebuck;
Threw the deer across his shoulder,
And sped forward without pausing.
At the doorway of his wigwam
Sat the ancient Arrow-maker,
In the land of the Dacotahs,
Making arrow-heads of jasper,
Arrow-heads of chalcedony.
At his side, in all her beauty,
Sat the lovely Minnehaha,
Sat his daughter, Laughing Water,
Plaiting mats of flags and rushes;
Of the past the old man's thoughts were,
And the maiden's of the future.
He was thinking, as he sat there, Of the days when with such arrows He had struck the deer and bison, On the Muskoday, the meadow; Shot the wild goose, flying southward, On the wing, the clamorous Wawa; Thinking of the great war-parties, How they came to buy his arrows, Could not fight without his arrows. Ah, no more such noble warriors Could be found on earth as they were ; Now the men were all like women, Only used their tongues for weapons !
She was thinking of a hunter, From another tribe and country, Young and tall and very handsome, Who one morning, in the Spring-time, Came to buy her father's arrows, fat and rested in the wigwam,
Lingered long about the doorway,
Looking back as he departed.
She had heard her father praise him,
Praise his courage and his wisdom ;
Would he come again for arrows
To the falls of Minnehaha ?
On the mat her hands lay idle,
And her eyes were very dreamy.
Through their thoughts they heard a footstep,
Heard a rustling in the branches,
And with glowing cheek and forehead,
With the deer upon his shoulders,
Suddenly from out the woodlands
Hiawatha stood before them.
Straight the ancient Arrow-maker
Looked up gravely from his labor,
Laid aside the unfinished arrow,
Bade him enter at the doorway,
Saying, as he rose to meet him,
“ Hiawatha, you are welcome ! ”
At the feet of Laughing Water
Hiawatha laid his burden,
Threw the red deer from his shoulders;
And the maiden looked up at him,
Looked up from her mat of rushes,
Said with gentle look and accent,
" You are welcome, Hiawatha !”
Very spacious was the wigwam,
Made of deer-skin dressed and whitened,
With the Gods of the Dacotahs
Drawn and painted on its curtains,
And so tall the doorway, hardly
Hiawatha stooped to enter,
Hardly touched his cagle-feathers
As he entered at the doorway,
Then uprose the Laughing Water,
From the ground fair Minnehaha,
Laid aside her mat unfinished,
Brought forth food and set before them,