Between the spot occupied by the Osages and the hostile camp lay a rough piece of ground, full of holes and natural ditches. Across this the three friends began to crawl, holding their breath, and clutching their deadly weapons, while their hearts beat with anxiety lest their victims should escape. Half the distance was passed over, and still more strongly was the cooking made evident to the hungry senses of the creeping Osages. Still the unconscious warriors moved not, but kept their backs turned to the approaching foe. They were evidently eating, and holding converse at intervals. At length, as the friends came still nearer, they appeared to finish their meal, and sunk gradually on the leafy ground to rest. The Osages breathed more freely, and advanced with less caution, until at length, when within half-a-dozen yards, they rose, gave the terrific war-whoop, and leaped madly upon the camp. It was vacant—their victims had escaped. The friends, amazed, were about to fly from their dangerous proximity to the light, when three distinct laughs were heard.
The Osages stood immovable, gazing at one another with a grim, half-angry, half-comic expression, and ere they could speak, three maidens disguised as warriors stood meekly one before each brave, a horse’s tail in one hand, and the other trophies in the other. The friends tried their utmost to look angry; but the countenances of the girls were so meek, and yet so malicious, that the gravity of the braves was overcome, and they laughed heartily at the conclusion of their expected deadly struggle.
The girls then explained that, for reasons of their own, disapproving of the celibacy of the three friends, they had resolved to excite their admiration and interest, that they had followed them immediately after their departure, had crept on them in the night, and divested them of their crests, &c., and played them every other trick which has been recorded in this legend. The warriors listened, and when they narrated how they had saved their lives in the ravine, seemed each struck with the same sudden conviction; namely, that the lives thus preserved belonged to the preservers, and at once made public their opinion. The damsels laughed gaily, and promised to entertain the notion, but recalled their lovers to a remembrance of their hungry state. Merrily and blithely supped the three maidens and the three friends that night beneath the greenwood tree; and when in after-years they met at eventide, all happy husbands and wives, with dusky boys and girls crowding round them, that it was the brightest moment of their existence, was the oft-repeated saying of the THREE FRIENDS.
BY MISS ANNA MARIA SARGEANT.
Act well thy part—there the true honour lies.—POPE.
‘I wish, papa, you would teach me to be a painter,’ was the exclamation of a fair-haired child, over whose brow eleven summers had scarcely passed, as she sat earnestly watching a stern middle-aged man, who was giving the last touches to the head of a Madonna.