A LIKING FOR MISERY

Years rolled away, but they brought no peace to the mind of John
Bonyton.

His was not the mind to bend to the storm, and extract submission from
the precepts of Christianity, or that calm philosophy which learns at
length to submit to the inevitable.

He brooded upon his loss day and night; he never again entered the roof
of his father. Knowing the atrocious plan concocted beneath it, of
charging Hope with witchcraft, he could not endure the sight of those
whose cruelty he abhorred, and whose hypocrisy was too apparent to be
excused.

Finding no sympathy with the colonists, he finally entirely estranged
himself from them, and passed his whole time with the Saco Indians.
Their simple truth, their loyalty to a friend, no less than their
hatred to a foe, harmonized with the broad shades of his own character,
and he learned a peace with them which his own people denied him.

Gradually his higher intelligence, his daring courage, his contempt
of danger, hardship and death, so won their admiration that he was
elected sagamore, or chief. Thus did these primitive people recognize
the essential manhood of John Bonyton; thus did they trust him, submit
their interests to his keeping, and look up to him as one worthy of all
reverence.

Once they besought him to select one of the fairest of their maidens to
wife; but when he showed them that the wounds of his heart could never
heal, they said no more.

The colonists resented this departure of one of their members from
civilized usages, and visited the career of John Bonyton with the
utmost acrimony of Puritanical persecution. They looked upon him as
wholly given over to Satan, and unentitled to the ordinary claims of
human sympathy or human fellowship.

Always a contemner of forms, after his election of sagamore to the
tribe, John Bonyton refused any submission to the constituted
authority of the colony, which sought in vain to seduce him to the
condition of good citizenship. Being called upon to take the oath of
allegiance to the colony, he refused, on the ground of his connection
with the Saco tribe, whose interests he represented.

The relentless colonists pronounced a decree of outlawry upon the
unhappy man, and set a price upon his head.

To these colonial persecutions were superadded those of town and
church; so that, but for his faithful friends and allies, the Sacos,
the situation of the high-spirited youth would have been miserable
in the extreme; but his own indomitable will and fierce assertion of
personal independence bore him above hardships and persecutions which
would have paralyzed a man of less mettle.

John Bonyton never skulked in by-places to avoid his enemies, but
openly confronted them, walking into the town bravely, accoutered in
his demi-savage costume, and haughtily bowing to soldier, civilian, or
priest, who might be seen with pale lips turning the first corner to
avoid the fiery eye of the haughty sagamore.

After the price had been put upon his head, John Bonyton might have
been seen making his way at the early twilight of a winter day, to the
house of the acting Governor of the colony, Thomas Gorges.

The family were engaged in singing the evening hymn, when a loud rap
responded to the last note of the singers. The Governor opened the door
in person, for he detected cowardice upon the faces of those nearest
the window. John Bonyton stood erect, with rifle in hand, and spoke
slowly and distinctly:

“I am John Bonyton, Sagamore of Saco. What will you give _me_ for my
head, Governor?”

“How many of your tribe do you carry at your back, John?”

“Not one; I am alone.”

“Then I must say you are a foolhardy man, John, and I warn you to
depart. God forbid I should be instrumental in shedding your blood.”

“Hear me, Thomas Gorges. I shall go as I came, and no man will _dare_
lay his hand upon me. Mark me, sir: the shot that lays John Bonyton
in the dust will be the signal for the brand, the arrow, and the
scalping-knife to fall heavily upon every man, woman and child in this
colony. I have warned you.”

He went as he came, alone, and no man dared, as he said, to molest him.
These visits he repeated at all times, day or night, till the cross
nurse stilled the fretful child by fear of the Sagamore of Saco. So
far from being subject to fear for his own life, John Bonyton became a
terror to the people of Saco, who never ventured to put any of their
edicts against him in execution.

Chief, as he was, of a Pagan tribe, John Bonyton nevertheless felt, or
affected to feel, an interest in and need of Christian worship, which
he did not fail to gratify when the interests of the tribe permitted
him to be absent.

While in the porch of the sacred edifice was pasted up a reward, and
an ample one, to whomsoever would bring to the Governor the head of
the handsome outlaw, one clear summer morning, the inhabitants being
assembled for worship, John Bonyton walked in and read the “Notice”
in a clear voice, audible to the people inside, who trembled in their
boots. He then stuck a flint-headed arrow through the paper, and walked
half-way up the central aisle of the little church.

The minister was at prayer; but being an intrepid man, and accustomed
to take a peep now and then through his closed lids, he did so on this
occasion, and the prayer, ordinarily an hour in length, was greatly
abridged.

There stood John Bonyton, rifle in hand, tall, dark, and defiant.

As the minister said “amen,” the women sunk into their seats, but
the men remained standing, for it was the custom in that early age
and country for the people to stand in prayer–not to kneel, as the
reverent will, nor to sit, as the indolent do.

There was a brief pause, and the minister said:

“John Bonyton, what is your will in this place?”

“To worship God,” was the brief reply.

“Know you not that a price has been set upon your head, and any man has
the right to kill you?”

“Yea, I know it.”

There was a clatter of fire-locks, and a stir of heavy feet, for
every man carried his musket into the house of God in those days, and
worshiped armed to the teeth.

John Bonyton cast a fiery eye over the assemblage, and waved his hand.

“Tell your people to sit down. I shall stand.”

The minister gave the signal, and the congregation became seated.

“Come up here, John Bonyton, and sit by me. God forbid that you should
be slain, as was Joab, grasping the horns of the altar.”

“Thomas Jenner, I pray thee proceed with thy ministrations; no man will
lay hand upon me. You pray and preach; I will listen to you.”

Whereat the Rev. Mr. Jenner gave the people a sermon, which lasted two
hours of that hot, midsummer day, in which he enlarged upon the duty
of every man, who had come into this new Canaan to plant here the Ark
of the Covenant of God, to hold himself in readiness to drive out the
heathen, root and branch, as the Israelites of old were commanded to
do, when they crossed the Jordan into the promised land, and failing
in which, the Jews brought down upon themselves the judgment of an
offended Leader and Judge, even the Most High God.

Fierce looks and angry glances lighted upon the head of John Bonyton,
but he moved not hand nor foot, nor turned away his eye from
contemplating the face of the minister, all through the long sermon.
When it closed, he walked up and stood in front of the communion-table,
and looked up at the singers with a pleasant face, although it is
recorded that they introduced into their tune more quavers and
demi-semi-quavers than of right belonged to it.

The minister, leaning over the pulpit, said:

“John Bonyton, I command thee to go thy way.”

A pleasant smile passed over the handsome face of the sagamore, and he
glanced over his shoulder, upward at Mr. Jenner, and replied:

“Bid thy sheep betake themselves to the fold, ewes and lambs, Thomas
Jenner, and I will await their exit.”

Whereat the minister pronounced the benediction, and the people,
according to their wont, went forth, the men first, and the women
following; and it was notable that every woman turned her face and
looked fully at the handsome outlaw, and the cheek of every woman was
observed to turn, not pale, but to glow with a rosy blush.

Lastly, the minister came slowly down the pulpit-stairs, and walked
down the aisle, and then John Bonyton strode forth, and walked, in a
slow and stately manner, up the main street of the village, along the
river-bank, and up the mountain gorges. No man dared lay hands upon him.

The Sagamore of Saco was no ordinary man, and the men of the times
felt it. Tradition is yet rife with legends of his great beauty, his
tall, manly physique, like that of the handsome King of Israel, head
and shoulders overtopping the rest of the people, while his lonely but
unfrequent smile wore the power of fascination.

Mistress Bonyton at length found repose where the weary are at rest,
and Nancy gave her hand, in due time, to the godly youth, Ephraim
Higgins, who, stimulated by his wife, made many ambitious attempts at
public prayer and exhortation, but, being deficient in that fervor
or ostentation of character essential to “freedom of utterance,” our
Ephraim was fain to give over these public aspirations, and content
himself with the “amen,” which marked his indorsement of the sayings of
others. If the truth must be told, Nancy not unfrequently nudged him to
hold his peace even in this, because of the said amen having fallen in
the wrong quarter, to the no little mortification of his wife.

Perseverance was a rose so guarded with thorns, that no man had the
courage to pluck it, and she may have sometimes caused Nancy some
discomfort by alluding to persons and events which might as well have
been buried in oblivion. For instance, she was fond of marking an event
thus:

“This happened when your Ephraim, the great goose, was spoonying about
Hope Vines. Never shall I forget, Nancy, how he used to stand with his
finger in his mouth–no, his thumb in his mouth–looking after that
girl.”

“What do you think became of Hope?” asked Nancy Higgins, ignoring the
spiteful remark of her sister.

“I believe Satan carried her off bodily. I no more believe that she was
stolen by the Indians, than I believe that brother Ephe will set the
world afire.”

“Never you mind my Ephe; it’s easy to cry sour grapes. When you get
_your_ man we shall see–we shall see!”

“There goes John, as true as I live, stalking along just as though the
folks warn’t ready to eat him up,” cried Perseverance, making a rush at
the door, at which she cried, loudly:

“John! John Bonyton, look here!”

The sagamore turned with a grave slowness, and confronted the speaker
in silence. His sister Nancy now joined her, and beckoned him to
approach. He lowered the musket which he carried carelessly in the
hollow of his arm, showing it to be loaded, and casting the butt upon
the ground, it gave out a sharp, significant ring.

“What is your will, wildcats?” he asked.

Unheeding this not very complimentary epithet, Mrs. Higgins entreated
him to enter her house.

“Why should I enter your house?”

“Because I am your sister, John, and it shames me to see you living
this heathenish life.”

“Then cease to regard me as a brother. Come here, Perseverance.”

In a few minutes the woman was seen moving slowly down the street in
company with the tall and taciturn man, who moved toward the rude
cemetery, in which were laid the dust to dust of the few of the colony
who had passed from the strife of the world into the eternal rest. It
was a small inclosure in which the stumps of trees were still visible,
and the graves were little more than heaps of sand.

Now and then might be seen a few flowers, and a grave rounded with
green turf; but it was a desolate-looking place, serving for nothing
but the sad necessities of humanity.

In silence the two proceeded onward, and at length stopped where the
sod was heaped with unwonted care over a newly made grave. Perseverance
burst into tears:

“She lies here, John.”

The sagamore leaned upon his gun–raising the helmet of plumes from his
head, and as he gazed downward, tears flowed from his eyes.

“Did she die in peace, at last?”

“Yea, my brother, she deplored your heathenish–”

He waved his hand.

“What said she?”

“At the last she was very gentle. She said she feared the people would
bring down the curse of God upon themselves for some of their doings.”

“Go on,” he said, observing her to hesitate.

“She said, ‘I am ill at ease about John,’ and then she burst into
tears, and cried, ‘Oh! John, John, my dearest, best! Oh, that I could
see him!–oh, that I could bless him, before I die!’”

At this outburst of genuine feeling from his sister, John Bonyton took
her hand in his, and long after did Perseverance remember the groan
that escaped his bosom.

“Said she nothing of Hope Vines?”

“Yes, John, she said she repented before God the evil she designed in
her heart against her.”

“And you?”

As he asked the question, his stern eyes were upon her face.

“I, John?”

“Yes; have you no repentance?”

“I did nothing.”

“Is it nothing to let loose the tongue against the innocent? Do not
tell me that you, Perseverance Bonyton, believed these idle stories,
which you helped to promulgate.”

“Wiser than I believed them.”

He turned moodily away to the woods, and Perseverance went her way,
momentarily softened, but only to resume her hard and vindictive
thoughts, and become one in that aggregate of falsehood and malignity
which goes to make up human society.

That night, when the village was buried in sleep, John Bonyton might
have been seen for hours, kneeling upon his mother’s grave–he, the
strong man, weeping like a child upon its mother’s breast.

Not till the morning was dawning did he turn away, murmuring, “Mother,
mother,” as if the repetition of the word brought some ease to his
heart.

As he turned away from the grave in the early light, he was surprised
to see Ephraim Higgins standing beside him.

“I just come, John, to speak to you. I al’ays liked you, John.”

“I am sure of it. You’ve a true, honest heart, Ephe.”

“I’m glad you think so, John. I al’ays liked you–you know I did.”

“Then you would not take my life, even to please the Governor?” This
with a smile.

“No, indeed, John. I wish I could do something for you. I wish you’d
come home, and live like a Christian, John–I wish you would.”

And poor, honest Ephraim grasped his hand warmly as he went on:

“I don’t understand things much, John, and sometimes I make your sister
Nancy feel ashamed of me, John; but I mean right, I do–and we’ve got a
baby–we have, and it’s e’ena’most as purty as Hope Vines.”

“You don’t forget Hope?”

“No, John, no; I didn’t think of her as the women think I did–never,
never! She was like a born angel to me–like a cherubim on a tombstone.
Somehow I felt as if I could pray to her. My mother said I was
bewitched, and you was bewitched, and I believed it. I know better now,
John. I’ve thought it out.”

“And you love your old playmate yet, Ephraim, and you know and hear
nothing of Hope?”

“No, John, not a word. But, look here–she was doomed, like, from the
fust. I used to feel as if I should cry, to look at her eyes.”

“I never saw any thing strange in her–nothing but truth and goodness.”

“All that, John, but not the kind to wring out a dishcloth or sweep a
kitchen. Women don’t like them that don’t do jest as all the rest of
them duz.”

“That is true. What then?”

“Don’t you remember that Hope would whistle up a quail, with that purty
cherry month of hern? Well, the women used to look askance at this, and
say–I’ve heard Nancy say it a hundred times–”

“Say what?” asked the sagamore, for Ephraim had a dim perception of
saying something not just what should be said and had stopped.

“Well, they used to say,

‘Whistling gals and crowing hens
Always come to bad ends.’

If women don’t keep the right side of each other, it’s a gone case with
’em, John.”

“You think they would have tortured and killed Hope out of spite, and
called it religion?”

“I don’t pretend to be as wise as your sister Nancy, John–la, bless
you! I believe the baby’s wiser’n its own father; but I do say they’d a
killed her; and it’s better as it is.”

“Who would have had the heart to do it?”

“As to that, any of them. My wife Nancy would a helped, she would.
You ought to hear her quote Scriptur’ about witches and wizards, and
necromancers, and Moloch, and familiar sperrits. I’ve sot and heard her
till every hair in my head stood on end. I think the women are kind of
disappointed not to a had a chance at her.”

John Bonyton ground his teeth with fury, and exclaimed:

“They will find a subject in due time, I’ll be bound.”

“That they will. The way they tell about running pins and needles into
the flesh of some poor old thing is awful. I think the women, not going
to war, let their minds run on these kind of torments instead. Now,
Nancy is as kind as the best, but I’ve heard her tell how they’d do.
They were in doubt whether they would burn or hang Hope.”

John Bonyton shuddered, and ejaculated between his teeth a compound
which we will not repeat; but it was “she-”– something, and a term
which many a woman has well deserved.

Ephraim looked aghast at the fierce passion of his friend and droned on
again:

“You was al’ays violent and kind o’ unreasonable, John. But it’s
nothing here nor there to talk. Howsomever you can fix it, women ain’t
over’n above tender. They kinder enjoy sufferin’. See ’em cry. They
_enjoy_ it. I’m more tender to our baby than Nancy is.”

It is doubtful if the sagamore heard half of this philosophical tirade
of the kind-hearted Ephraim. The sun was now up, and admonished him
that if he would escape observation at such a time and place, he must
take his departure. Seeing this, Ephraim broke in again:

“Come home with me, John, and eat breakfast–bread and ham and
potatoes, John, Christian food, with a grace before meat.”

“I have renounced the colony, as you well know, Ephraim. I can not go
with you; but I thank you none the less.”

“Come, now, don’t turn your back upon me, John Bonyton. It goes to my
heart to see you go away from kith and kin, and everybody’s hand agin’
you.”

But, before he had ceased to speak, the sagamore grasped his hand, and
even, in an unwonted fit of softness, clasped his arms around his one
simple, devoted friend, and without a word, was gone.

Years, as we have said, had passed away since the disappearance of Hope
Vines, and her memory was lost to all but the Sagamore of Saco, in
whose breast it burned a perpetual and yearning reminiscence, branded
into the very fiber of his life and being.

A council of the Sacos had been called among the upper waters of the
river, for the tribe had determined upon a grand expedition against the
Terrentines and Androscoggins.

The moon was at full, and the sky balmy with the aromas of wood and
water, for the brief Indian summer had renewed the youth and revived
the beauty of the waning season. The young braves had brought to
the council a captive, taken in a recent attack upon a Terrentine
village, and she now was before them bound to a tree, the light of
the moon conflicting with the ruddy light of the torch-flame of the
council-fire, playing in weird contrast over her dark, motionless
features.

As chief after chief arose and gave, in a clear, solemn voice, his
views regarding the campaign, it was observed that the sagamore cast
stern and frequent glances upon the captive. At length he seized a
torch and flashed it full upon her face. The eyes of the two met, but
not a word passed the lips of either. Returning to the council, the
sagamore asked:

“Has the captive heard our proceedings?”

“No; the wind bears the sound away. The sapling to which she is bound
is beyond earshot.”

“It is Acashee, the daughter of Samoset.”

The younger chiefs sprung to their feet, and would have buried their
tomahawks in her brain, for they knew of the story of Hope Vines, and
the grief of the sagamore.

The captive witnessed the outburst with exultant pride, and began to
chant her death-song, with head erect and eyes flashing skyward, in
words like the following:

“Break out into laughter,
Ye thunder-bolts loud,
Wildly thereafter
Scream from your storm-cloud,
Oh, eagles undaunted!

“By the warrior’s hand
The maiden shall fall.
Light up the torch brand!
The torturers call
With pangs they have vaunted.”

Thus far, and the women from the camp, unwilling that one of their
kind and a captive should emulate the hardihood of warriors, rushed
out and threw water from their gourds upon her, and in derision tossed
bean-pods and corn-husks about her, and jeeringly clapped the paddles
of the canoe, and the pokers of the fire in her face. For awhile the
proud woman held her head high, but, fearful of falling beneath these
feminine weapons, her head fell upon her bosom, and she was silent.

In the mean while, the chiefs around the council-fire sat long in
solemn conclave. At one time, the debate had been of more than usual
animation, but at length a solemn silence prevailed, and the sagamore
approached the captive, tomahawk in hand. She lifted her head proudly
and looked him in the face while he cut the bonds and set her free.

“Go, Acashee; go, Spider; we need you not.”

The woman looked imploringly up, and even dashed her hands into his
face, as he held her by the hair of her head, and cut away the long,
heavy braids that depended therefrom. A shout of derision burst from
the women, and they followed her with loud and contemptuous jeers
far into the forest. Weary at length of their malignant sport, they
returned to the camp, leaving the disgraced woman to make her way as
best she could, through almost impenetrable forests, to her own people.

John Bonyton, having cut away the black locks of Acashee, retired from
the council. A scout had been appointed to follow the woman, never to
lose sight of her, to succor her if needed, and after having seen her
safely within her own tribe, to return to the camp, and report all he
could learn.

When Acashee had departed, John Bonyton, impelled by an irresistible
desire to learn something of Hope Vines, whose fate he believed was
known to the Indian girl, followed in her path till he saw her throw
herself upon the fallen leaves, and give utterance to a fierce, low
cry, not unlike that of the hungry panther. She tore at her dishonored
locks, and gnashed her teeth in impotent fury.

The sagamore, tall, calm and silent, stood before her. Instantly she
sprung to her feet, and throwing back her head, cried:

“Pale-faced coward! I spit upon you, and will work a spell that shall
consume all your bones, and–”

“Silence, girl. You will not provoke me to kill you. Live, the scorn of
your people.”

“I will live, but only to work your destruction! No, no, no, John
Bonyton,” and she covered her face with her hands, to hide her
relenting tears.

The sagamore was softened, and laid his hand upon her shoulder.

“Tell me what became of Hope Vines, Acashee, and I will forget all the
past.”

“She was called away by the Great Spirit.” And her look and tone
softened.

“Acashee, I know your falsehood and your thousand wiles. You do not
speak truth. Tell me, I beseech you, where you have put her, for I feel
in my very soul that she lives. She comes to me in my dreams, she walks
by my side in the forest-path–there is no spot to me where Hope is
not.”

“Hear me, John Bonyton: if I knew, I would not tell. Hear me! She is
dead–dead, a thousand times dead to you, and I rejoice to know it! The
daughters of the morning star have taken her to their arms; why then
should you scorn Acashee?”

Her dark eyes were fixed tenderly upon his face as she spoke, while
her rich, clear voice wooed the echoes to melody. She had laid her
wrist upon his arm in her old seductive way, but the sagamore shook her
off, and turned his eyes from her face, as he replied:

“Go, then, Acashee, go. I had hoped there might be some touch of
goodness in that cruel heart. Go.”

“Touch of goodness! proud sagamore! Is it nothing to spurn my kind only
for such as you? Nothing to live one long thought of you?”

While she spoke, a wood-pigeon alighted upon a branch near by, and with
singular dexterity she caught it, and held it fondly to her bosom,
smoothing and caressing its ruffled plumage.

John Bonyton waved his hand and turned away, while the treacherous
girl stood watching his tall, receding form, till the trees concealed
it; then, dashing the bird to the ground, she placed her foot upon its
beautiful breast, exclaiming:

“This, and this, be the fate of Hope Vines!” and she ground its
innocent blood into the moss-grown soil.
“ВЕКТОР-МЕДИКА”, ЗАКРЫТОЕ АКЦИОНЕРНОЕ ОБЩЕСТВО
630099, г Новосибирск, ул Максима Горького, 17а
The sagamore plunged into the recesses of the forest, and at length
emerged upon the river-bank, where, as boy and youth, he had idled his
days in that ecstatic dream of love and youth, which so fills up the
soul that the past is forgotten, the future hung with rainbow clouds,
pavilioned with golden vaults and silvery sheen, thus exalting the glow
of the present by an onward gorgeous perspective.

“Lost! lost! all is lost!” he exclaimed.

Unconsciously he had cast himself down by the wigwam of the prophet of
the tribe. It was the custom of the Indians to build the tent or wigwam
of those whose duty it was to watch all omens bearing upon the welfare
of the people, in some secluded spot within the sound of great falls,
or in proximity to some natural cave or grotto, where they might,
undisturbed, exercise their spells and incantations. A hand, cold, and
wasted by fastings nearly to the bone, was laid upon the shoulder of
the sagamore.

“Listen, my son! Turn thy steps to the east. Go!”

Before the sagamore could reply, he was gone. He entered the wigwam;
it was empty. He searched upon every side; no one was visible; and
he began to doubt if his senses might not have deceived him, when he
observed a clear crystal glittering in the moonlight. It was one of
those peculiar stones which the common people believed came from the
top of the vast White Mountains lying a hundred miles to the north, and
hence popularly called the “White Mountain Carbuncle.”

He knew this was a part of the paraphernalia of the wizard’s wigwam,
and that on momentous occasions the chiefs called upon their oracle to
look into this crystal stone and announce the augury. Remembering this,
he raised it to his eyes, looked and started back with surprise. What
did he behold?

One look more! There, throned in the center of the crystal, was a
miniature image of Hope!

He fell headlong to the earth, he knew not how or why; a feeling of
exultation–a something by which he felt as if all sense of weight, of
obstacle had been removed. It was but a moment, and the same cold, bony
hand wrenched the crystal from his grasp, and was no more seen.

The impressions, whatever it might be, remained, and without trying
to account for what he had seen, a new and abiding conviction that he
should once more behold the dear object of his lifelong thoughts took
possession of his soul. He returned to the camp, buoyed up by brighter
thoughts than he had experienced for long and dreary years.

It is well known that the images to be read in the “crystal stone”
was a popular belief with the Indians, though only a few persons
were gifted with power of sight. They believed the magician must be
originally endowed with the power of prescience, and he must educate
and develop this power by a long course of fasting and incantation.
They believed, also, that a person upon whom had fallen any great
calamity became spontaneously endowed with this gift.

The mad-dog stone is a different species, used medicinally for the cure
of hydrophobia, and the bite of venomous serpents. This latter is of
oriental origin.

The sagamore would gladly have left all, and followed the oracle of
the wizard, traveling toward the rising sun, where he now felt sure
he should find Hope; but, as chief of the tribe he could not cast off
the duties it involved, or forget the grave decorums of the office. He
must await the return of the scout, and then follow the Terrentines and
Androscoggins to their villages or hunting-grounds. Accordingly, he
made ready for the eastern campaign.

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