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Witchcraft In Louisiana
by [?]

The chief answered that the white soldier had probably gone hunting in the woods, and killed himself accidentally with his gun, or else he had been killed by a panther. To this Bossu replied that the animal would not have eaten the gun or the clothes of the soldier. He said that if the Indians would find the Frenchman’s gun, or bits of his clothes, they could easily show that he had been killed by a wild animal.

Bossu had a friend among the Indians who was very much attached to him. He persuaded this young Indian to tell him to what tribe the murderer of the Frenchman belonged, but he solemnly promised that the other Indians should never know who had told him. He paid the young Indian for telling him.

The Frenchman who was called Fearless now undertook to have the man who had killed the other soldier punished, for the dead soldier had been his friend. But it was necessary that he should not let the Indians know who had told about it. Fearless stripped off a great quantity of bark of the pawpaw tree. He thought he would play a trick like that of the medicine man, and make the Indians believe that a spirit was talking to them. He did everything very secretly. By fastening pieces of the pawpaw bark together with pitch, he managed to make a very large speaking trumpet, which would carry the voice a long distance.

When he had finished this trumpet, he left the camp one very dark night. He carried with him his gun, some food, and a gourd full of water. He had also a bearskin of which to make a bed, and a buffalo robe to cover himself with. With these things he hid himself on a hill. This hill was near the Indian camp. From the top of it Fearless could make his voice heard for three miles round by the aid of his great pawpaw trumpet.

He shouted through this great bark trumpet what seemed to be words in an unknown language, such as the Indian medicine man used. The frightful noise sounded through the woods. It did not seem to come from anywhere. The Indians thought that these cries came down from the sky. The Indian women were thrown into a great fright, and even the warriors and chiefs were alarmed. They said that the Master of Life was angry with their tribe, and that this horrible voice showed that something bad was going to happen to them.

The day after the voice was heard, the old men of the tribe came to consult Bossu about this strange noise. Bossu told them that the white soldier who had been killed could not rest. He said that every night his voice was heard, though nothing could be seen. He said that the voice cried out in a melancholy tone, “I am the white soldier that went with the French captain. I was killed by a man of the tribe of the Kanoatinos. Frenchmen, revenge my death.”

The Indians now saw that it was of no use for them to tell any more lies about the death of the white man. They believed that the soldier’s ghost had told the Frenchmen all about it. They confessed the murder, but they explained that the white soldier had provoked it when he was drunk, by bad treatment of the Indian who killed him.

Captain Bossu was not willing to take their excuses. He told them, that, if the soldier had done wrong, he ought to have been brought to his own captain to be punished. He said, “If one of my soldiers should kill one of your Indians, I would put him to death. You must do the same with the Indian who killed my soldier.”

The oldest of the chiefs now commanded one of his men to go and seize the guilty man, bind him, and bring him in to be put to death, in order that the ghost of the French soldier might no longer trouble them.

Captain Bossu did not wish to put the Indian to death. He knew that the French soldier had very greatly wronged and provoked the Indian. He got his young Indian friend to go to the wife of the chief of the Kanoatinos, and say to her that she might beg the life of the guilty man. The young Indian told the chief’s wife that Captain Bossu would not refuse her anything. The woman went, and begged that the Indian might be spared. Bossu consented that the Indian should live, but said that he did it as a favor to the chief’s wife.

The chief then turned to the condemned Indian, and said to him, “You were dead, but the captain of the white warriors has brought you to life at the request of the chief’s wife.” The white people and Indians then smoked the pipe of peace together.