The bosom of Holden heaved convulsively, and his brain reeled.
The Indian watched his changing countenance with an eager look as if he revelled in his agony. Not a hard drawn breath, not a single expression escaped his notice. He saw the eyes of the Solitary flash, then settle into a dreamy gaze as if looking into a dim, unfathomable distance, then shut, as if he tried to exclude some horrid sight. Suddenly, with a shudder, Holden sprang to his feet.
“Accursed Shawnees,” he cried; “they have done this deed. But for every drop of blood they shed a river shall flow. Dog!” and he seized the Indian with a strength to which madness lent additional force, and dashed him to the ground, “thou art first delivered into my hand.”
He staggered toward the fallen man—stopped—glared at him a moment and with a wild cry rushed into the hut.
The Indian, who had immediately risen from the fall, and stood with folded arms regarding his motions, slowly gathered up his disordered blanket about him and stalked towards the canoe. A gleam of ferocity shot over his face as he resumed the paddle, and softly breathing the single word “Onontio,” pushed from the shore.
I will pursue to death this spiteful
Not earth’s low centre, nor sea’s deepest part,
Nor heaven, nor hell, can shield him from my might:
I will o’ertake him, take him, cleave his heart.
The suspicions of the Indian were confirmed beyond a doubt. It was, perhaps, the voice and accent of the Solitary in his native tongue that at first attracted his attention and induced him to try the experiment which resulted as we have seen. He must have had or fancied that he had a cause of deadly hatred of long standing against Holden. It is impossible otherwise to explain his conduct. But no length of time can erase the recollection of an injury from the mind of a North American Indian. He cherishes it as something never to be parted with, and would feel degraded in his own estimation were he to forgive. Revenge is the central sun round which his spirit revolves; and to gratify the feeling no hardships are too severe. For such a purpose he will traverse, with an unerring instinct, pathless forests for hundreds of miles, swim wide rivers, climb lofty mountains, sleep, unrepining, on the bare ground, exposed to all vicissitudes of heat and cold, supporting himself by the chase and fishing, and sustained throughout by his vindictive passion and the glory he connects with its gratification. The kindness shown by Holden to his sister and her son, and the reverence with which she regarded him, it might be expected would have influenced Ohquamehud; but they had no such effect. To the kindness he ascribed a sinister motive; and of course, Peena’s gratitude was misplaced. It was therefore with a fiendish joy unalloyed by misgivings, that he brooded over the means to accomplish his purpose.