“Marry him, my daughter,” said the mother, “your father is old; he cannot now hunt deer for you and me, and what shall we do for food? Chaske will hunt the deer and buffalo, and we shall be comfortable and happy.”
“Yes,” said her father, “your mother speaks well. Chaske is a great warrior too. When your brother died, did he not kill his worst enemy and hang up his scalp at his grave?”
But Wenona persevered in her refusal. “I do not love him, I will not marry him,” was her constant reply.
But Chaske, trusting to time and her parent’s influence, was not discouraged. He killed game and supplied the wants of the family. Besides, he had twice bought her, according to Indian custom.
He had given her parents cloth and blankets, calico and guns. The girl entreated them not to receive them, but the lover refused to take them back, and, finally, they were taken into the wigwam.
Just as the band was about leaving the village for the hunt, he came again with many presents; whatever would make the family comfortable on their journey, and a decided promise was then given that the maiden should become his wife.
She knew it would be useless to contend, so she seemed to be willing to submit to her fate. After encamping for a time opposite the Maiden’s Rock to rest from their journey, the hunters determined to go further down the river. They had crossed over to the other side, and were seated nearly under the rock.
Their women were in their canoes coming over, when suddenly a loud cry was heard from an old woman, the mother of Wenona.
The canoe had nearly reached the shore, and the mother continued to shriek, gazing at the projecting rock.
The Indians eagerly inquired of her what was the matter? “Do you not see my daughter?” she said; “she is standing close to the edge of the rock!”
She was there indeed, loudly and wildly singing her dirge, an invocation to the Spirit of the Rock, calm and unconcerned in her dangerous position, while all was terror and excitement among her friends below her.
The hunters, so soon as they perceived her, hastily ascended the bluff, while her parents called to her and entreated her to go back from the edge of the rock. “Come down to us, my child,” they cried; “do not destroy your life; you will kill us, we have no child but you.”
Having finished her song, the maiden answered her parents. “You have forced me to leave you. I was always a good daughter, and never disobeyed you; and could I have married the man I love, I should have been happy, and would never have left you. But you have been cruel to me; you have turned my beloved from the wigwam; you would have forced me to marry a man I hated; I go to the house of spirits.”
By this time the hunters had nearly reached her. She turned towards them for a moment with a smile of scorn, as if to intimate to them that their efforts were in vain. But when they were quite near, so that they held out their arms towards her in their eagerness to draw her from her dangerous station, she threw herself from the rock.