The Yemassee

By William Gilmore Simms; Alexander Cowie | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER XLII

"Oh! wherefore strike the beautiful, the young,
So innocent, unharming? Lift the knife,
If need be, 'gainst the warrior; but forbear
The trembling woman."

LET us now return to the chamber of Bess Matthews. She slept not soundly, but unconsciously, and heard not the distant but approaching cry " Sangarrah-me Sangarrah-me! " The war had begun; and in the spirit and with the words of Yemassee battle, the thirst for blood was universal among their warriors. From the war-dance, blessed by the prophet, stimulated by his exhortations, and warmed by the blood of their human sacrifice, they had started upon the war-path in every direction. The larger division, led on by Sanutee and the prophet, took their course directly for Charleston, while Ishiagaska, heading a smaller party, proceeded to the frontier settlements upon the Pocota-ligo, intending massacre along the whole line of the white borders, including the now flourishing town of Beaufort. From house to house, with the stealth of a cat, he led his band to indiscriminate slaughter, and, diverging with this object from one settlement to another, he contrived to reach every dwelling-place of the whites known to him in that neighbourhood. But in many places he had been foiled. The providential arrangements of Harrison, wherever, in the brief time allowed him, he had found it possible, had rendered their design in great part innocuous throughout that section, and, duly angered with his disappointment, it was not long before Ishiagaska came to the little cottage of the pastor. The lights had been all extinguished, and, save on the eastern side, the dwelling lay in the deepest shadow. The quiet of the whole scene formed an admirable contrast to the horrors gathering in perspective, and about to destroy its sacred and sweet repose for ever.

With the wonted caution of the Indian, Ishiagaska led on his band in silence. No sound was permitted to go before the assault. The war-whoop, with which they anticipate or accompany the stroke of battle, was not suffered, in the present instance, to pre

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