Their plans succeeded, and after leaving the immediate neighborhood, they broke their shackles with stones. They were obliged, however, to hide themselves for a time among the rocks, to elude the sheriff and his party. They were not taken, and as soon as they deemed it prudent, they resumed their route.
Two of the prisoners died near Prairie du Chien. Sullen Face, Forked Horn, and another Sioux, pursued their journey with difficulty, for they were near perishing from want of food. They found a place where the Winnebagoes had encamped, and they parched the corn that lay scattered on the ground.
Disease had taken a strong hold upon the frame of Sullen Face; he constantly required the assistance of his companions. When they were near Prairie le Gros, he became so ill that he was unable to proceed. He insisted upon his friends leaving him; this they at first refused to do, but fearing that they would be found and carried back to prison, they consented—and the dying warrior found himself alone.
Some Indians who were passing by saw him and gently carried him to their wigwam. But he heeded not their kindness. Death had dimmed the brightness of his eye, and his fast-failing strength told of the long journey to the spirits’ land.
“It was not thus,” he said, “that I thought to die! Where are the warriors of the Sissetons? Do they listen to my death song?” I hoped to have triumphed over the white man, but his power has prevailed. My spirit drooped within his hated walls? But hark! there is music in my ears—’tis the voice of the sister of my youth—“Come with me my brother, we wait for you in the house of the spirits! we will sit by the banks of a lake more beautiful than that by which we wandered in our childhood; you will roam over the hunting grounds of your forefathers, and there the white man may never come.”
His eyes are closing fast in death, but his lips murmur—“Wenona! I come! I come!”
* * * * *
IT was in the spring of 1848, that several Dahcotahs were carefully making their way along the forests near the borders of the Chippeway country. There had recently been a fight near the spot where they were, and the Dahcotahs were seeking the bodies of their friends who had been slain, that they might take them home to bury them.
They moved noiselessly along, for their enemies were near. Occasionally, one of them would imitate the cry of a bird or of some animal, so that if the attention of their enemies should be drawn to the spot, the slight noise they made in moving might be attributed to any but the right cause.
They had almost given up the hope of finding their friends, and this was the close of their last day’s efforts to that intent. In the morning they intended to return to their village.