The Feast of the Virgins and Other Poems eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 375 pages of information about The Feast of the Virgins and Other Poems.

Crouching in the early morning,
Came the swarth and naked “Sioux;"[CF]
On the village, without warning,
Fell the sudden, savage blow. 
Horrid yell and crack of rifle
Mingle as the flames arise;—­
With the tomahawk they stifle
Mothers’ wails and children’s cries. 
Men and women to the ferry
Fly from many a blazing cot;—­
Brave and ready—­grim and steady,
Mauley mans the ferry-boat.

Can they cross the ambushed river? 
’Tis for life the only chance;
Only this may some deliver
From the scalping-knife and lance. 
Through the throng of wailing women
Frantic men in terror burst;—­
“Back, ye cowards!” thundered Mauley,—­
“I will take the women first!”
Then with brawny arms and lever
Back the craven men he smote. 
Brave and ready—­grim and steady,
Mauley mans the ferry-boat.

To and fro across the river
Plies the little mercy-craft,
While from ambushed gun and quiver
On it falls the fatal shaft. 
Trembling from the burning village,
Still the terror-stricken fly,
For the Indians’ love of pillage
Stays the bloody tragedy. 
At the windlass-bar bare-headed—­
Bare his brawny arms and throat—­
Brave and ready—­grim and steady,
Mauley mans the ferry-boat.

Hark!—­a sudden burst of war-whoops! 
They are bent on murder now;
Down the ferry-road they rally,
Led by furious Little Crow. 
Frantic mothers clasp their children,
And the help of God implore;
Frantic men leap in the river
Ere the boat can reach the shore. 
Mauley helps the weak and wounded
Till the last soul is afloat;—­
Brave and ready—­grim and steady,
Mauley mans the ferry-boat.

Speed the craft!—­The fierce Dakotas
Whoop and hasten to the shore,
And a shower of shot and arrows
On the crowded boat they pour. 
Fast it floats across the river,
Managed by the master hand,
Laden with a freight so precious,—­
God be thanked!—­it reaches land. 
Where is Mauley—­grim and steady,
Shall his brave deed be forgot? 
Grasping still the windlass-lever,
Dead he lies upon the boat.

[CF] Pronounced Soo; a name given to the Dakotas in early days by the French traders.



Man is a creature of a thousand whims;
The slave of hope and fear and circumstance. 
Through toil and martyrdom a million years
Struggling and groping upward from the brute,
And ever dragging still the brutish chains,
And ever slipping backward to the brute. 
Shall he not break the galling, brazen bonds
That bind him writhing on the wheel of fate? 
Long ages groveling with his brother brutes,
He plucked the tree of knowledge and uprose
And walked erect—­a god; but died the death: 
For knowledge brings but sadness and unrest

Project Gutenberg
The Feast of the Virgins and Other Poems from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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