THE GRATEFUL INDIAN, Martha G. (from Robert Merry's Museum, August 1862, pp. 33-35)
With what confidence this naturally timid animal approaches its young mistress! Should a stranger come near, away it would fly like the wind; but it knows that it may trust both itself and its loved fawn with Emily Martin: she is as gentle as the deer that loves to receive her caress. It was by an act of kindness that she became the owner of so beautiful a pet.
Mr. Martin had left his native town in Massachusetts with his wife and one child, to make a new home in the wild woods of Northern Michigan. He settled in the heart of the forest,
far from any village, and miles from the nearest white neighbor, and with a strong arm and resolute will began the conquest of the mighty trees that seemed to forbid the progress of civilization.
Ere long the ringing blows of his ax brought him visitors from a neighboring small tribe of Indians, who showed plainly that he was no welcome intruder upon their favorite hunting-grounds. But he felt no fear, for the Indians had learned to respect the white man's power, and they knew that any harm done to one of the settlers, would speedily bring punishment upon their tribe from the strong arm of the government. Besides this, Mr. Martin soon managed to secure their good-will by various trifling presents, and by always treating them justly and kindly.
Little Emily, who at first was terrified by the sight of their dusky faces, strange costume, and fierce demeanor, soon learned to confide in them, and by her artless simplicity won their hearts.
Several years passed along without any noteworthy incident, except that new settlers arrived, and the woods were rapidly being cleared before the tide of emigration.
All might have remained peaceful, but for the bad character of some of the settlers. Traders had come, bringing whisky, the bane of the white man, and the terrible foe of the Indian.
Very soon the peace of the settlement was disturbed by drunken brawls, in which the Indians were frequent participants.
On one occasion, the chief of the neighboring tribe visited the settlement, and a party of unfeeling wretches contrived to entice him into one of the groggeries, and after getting him beastly drunk, turned him out to make his way home as best he might. He wandered away into the forest, and stupefied with liquor, fell beside a stump, and was soon fast asleep.
It happened that Emily had gone out berrying that afternoon, and as she was returning she passed near the sleeping Indian. She was startled upon seeing him, but thinking some accident might have befallen him, she stopped to see if he were hurt. She was unable to awake him, and was about to turn away, when to her horror she saw, at but a little distance from her, a large, black bear. Her first impulse was to scream, but checking it, she started to run with all her might for her father's cottage, which was about quarter of a mile distant. She had run but a little way when she thought of the poor Indian left behind without power to escape from the bear, if it should attack him. What could she do? She saw that the animal had not followed her, but she dared not return for fear of being devoured. After a moment's thought, she determined to seek her father, who was at work in the field, and call him to rescue the Indian.
She flew to the field where her father had been plowing, but he had gone to the house, leaving his faithful dog beside the team. He had also left his rifle, which he always carried with him to the field, and in an instant the brave girl resolved to return to the defense of the sleeping man. Seizing the rifle and calling the dog she started at once, and in a few moments came in sight of the place where she had left him. Horrible! there was the bear standing directly over the man, who was now completely in its power. But the dog had seen him, and in an instant he bounded forward
to attack him. The bear gave a sharp growl, and advanced to meet him, but Emily had not stood idle. Her father had taught her to use the rifle, and though she knew the danger should she only wound the animal, she laid the barrel across a stump, took as deliberate aim as her trembling hands would allow, and fired, just as the dog was about to grapple with the bear. The ball sped truly, the animal rolled over dead, and the danger was passed; but the excitement had proved too much for Emily, and she fainted.
The report of the rifle aroused the Indian, who sprang to his feet, and seeing the bear, started to run from it. In doing so he caught sight of Emily, and seeing the rifle lying by her, at once the truth flashed upon him.
He caught her in his strong arms, to bear her to the house; but was soon met by her father who had heard the noise. While the Indian was telling what he knew of the occurrence, Emily revived, and on her way home related the whole. The Indian could say little, but his looks showed his gratitude. "Me never forget," said he, as he turned away, and was soon out of sight.
Nothing more was seen of the chief for many months. Mr. Martin learned that he had been so ashamed of his drunkenness, that he had removed far away, and he expected never to see him again. But early one morning, there was a knock at the door, and the Indian entered. "Me no forget," said he, and beckoned Emily to follow him. What was her delight to see, standing near the door, a beautiful deer with its fawn, which the Indian had brought as a present to the brave girl who had saved his life at the risk of her own. He had tamed it so that it would follow him like a dog, and though at first it was shy of Emily, it soon learned to love her better than any one else. The Indian pointed to the beautiful animal, saying, "Me no forget, me no get drunk more," darted away into the forest, and was never seen again in the settlement.