The Knight of the Golden Melice eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 406 pages of information about The Knight of the Golden Melice.

CHAPTER XX.

  “There have been holy men who hid themselves
  Deep in the woody wilderness.”

  BRYANT.

Arundel had now an opportunity to look round and observe the state of things.  Besides the Knight and himself, there were seven or eight Indians in the little cavern, armed with bows and arrows; and he remarked with pleasure that these persons were not stained with war-paint, indicating that they were on no hostile expedition, but engaged in hunting.  So far from offering violence, or even rudeness, the savages treated them with marked deference, keeping at a respectful distance, and yielding to them the piles of hemlock branches which they had arranged for couches.  Arundel listened to the conversation between the Knight and the Indians with that strained attention with which one unacquainted with a language will sometimes hang upon its sounds, as if by a concentration of the faculties to wring a sense out of it; and if he was unable to make out the meaning of the words, he at least satisfied himself, both from the intonation of the voices and expression of the faces, that no immediate injury was designed.  To the appealing looks which Arundel from time to time directed to him, the Knight at length replied: 

“I know not, Master Arundel, whether we should consider ourselves more fortunate or the contrary, in falling into the hands of these copper-colored cavaliers.  We are their prisoners, and, as such, bound to obey their motions; but their presence will guard us from attack, and in that way be a shield; and their treatment in other respects will shame, I doubt not, the conduct of more civilized men in like circumstances.”

“Know you,” inquired Arundel, “the name of their tribe, and their intentions towards us?”

“They are Taranteens, and, as far as I can learn, mean to take us to one of their villages.  It was fortunate your shot took not effect; for, otherwise, I know not what would have been the consequence.”

“I confess now its rashness; but it is manifest that we were tracked, and, in any event, would have been prisoners.”

“Perhaps not prisoners.  Perhaps, after making our acquaintance, they would have offered us their company as an escort.  As it is, we must submit to close watchfulness on our journey, and, afterwards, take what fate may come.  I counsel thee (and speak as one knowing the habits of these people) to betray no distrust or apprehension.  We must show that we rely with perfect assurance on our character as ambassadors, not only for immunity from danger, but for courteous treatment.  And now,” he added, disposing himself to rest, “we had better court that sleep which will be so necessary to prepare us for the fatigues of to-morow.”

Arundel followed his example, and, as if it had been a signal for the Indians, they all left the cave, with the exception of two, who stretched themselves out by the fire at the mouth.

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The Knight of the Golden Melice from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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