The Yemassee

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

CHAPTER XXI

"Come with me; thou shalt hear of my resolve."

WITHOUT giving more than a single glance to the maiden, Occonestoga approached the snake, and, drawing his knife, prepared to cut away the rattles, always a favourite Indian ornament, which terminated his elongated folds. He approached his victim with a deportment the most respectful, and, after the manner of his people, gravely, and in the utmost good faith, apologized in well set terms, in his own language, for the liberty he had already taken, and that which he was then about to take. He protested the necessity he had been under in destroying it; and, urging his desire to possess the excellent and only evidence of his own prowess in conquering so great a warrior, which the latter carried at his tail, he proceeded to cut away the rattles with as much tenderness as could have been shown by the most considerate operator, divesting a fellow-creature, still living, of his limbs. A proceeding like this, so amusing as it would seem to us, is readily accounted for, when we consider the prevailing sentiment among the Indians in reference to the rattlesnake. With them he is held the gentleman, the nobleman — the very prince of snakes. His attributes are devoutly esteemed among them, and many of their own habits derive their existence from models furnished by his peculiarities. He is brave, will never fly from an enemy, and for this they honour him. If approached, he holds his ground and is never unwilling for the combat. He does not begin the affray, and is content to defend himself against invasion. He will not strike without due warning of his intention, and when he strikes, the blow of his weapon is fatal. It is highly probable, indeed, that, even the war‐ whoop with which the Indians preface their own onset, has been borrowed from the warning rattle of this fatal, but honourable enemy. *

____________________
*
This respect of the Indians for the rattlesnake, leading most usually to much forbearance when they encountered him, necessarily resulted in the greater longevity of this snake than of any other. In some cases, they have been found so overgrown from this forbearance, as to be capable of swallowing entire a young fawn. An instance of this description has been related by the early settlers of South Carolina, and, well authenticated, is to be found on record. The movements of the

-159-

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The Yemassee
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • American Fiction Series *
  • The Yemassee *
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations vii
  • Introduction ix
  • A Simms Chronology xxxvi
  • Selected Bibliography xxxvii
  • The Yemassee Uprising xlii
  • Note on the Text *
  • To Professor Samuel Henry Dickson, M.D., of South Carolina 3
  • Chapter I 9
  • Chapter II 15
  • Chapter III 21
  • Chapter IV 28
  • Chapter V 34
  • Chapter VI 43
  • Chapter VII 51
  • Chapter VIII 65
  • Chapter IX 74
  • Chapter X 81
  • Chapter XI 91
  • Chapter XII 98
  • Chapter XIII 105
  • Chapter XIV 113
  • Chapter XV 118
  • Chapter XVI 123
  • Chapter XVII 133
  • Chapter XVIII 139
  • Chapter XIX 146
  • Chapter XX 151
  • Chapter XXI 159
  • Chapter XXII 165
  • Chapter XXIII 173
  • Chapter XXIV 182
  • Chapter XXV 188
  • Chapter XXVI 201
  • Chapter XXVII 210
  • Chapter XXVIII 215
  • Chapter XXIX 222
  • Chapter XXX 229
  • Chapter XXXI 235
  • Chapter XXXII 243
  • Chapter XXXIII 249
  • Chapter XXXIV 255
  • Chapter XXXV 265
  • Chapter XXXVI 271
  • Chapter XXXVII 276
  • Chapter XXXVIII 283
  • Chapter Xxxix 295
  • Chapter XL 300
  • Chapter XLI 307
  • Chapter XLII 314
  • Chapter XLIII 322
  • Chapter XLIV 329
  • Chapter XLV 336
  • Chapter XLVI 345
  • Chapter XLVII 355
  • Chapter XLVIII 363
  • Chapter Xlix 375
  • Chapter L 382
  • Chapter LI 389
  • Chapter LII 396
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