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Pocahontas: The Indian Girl Of The Virginia Forest
by [?]

The crowd of boys and girls followed in the wake of the warriors until the Council Hall was reached, when they all dropped back except their leader. Pushing her hair from her low brow, that she might see more clearly, and walking with the erectness of a Werowance’s daughter, Pocahontas entered the hall and stood near her father where she could not only watch the white captive, who appealed strongly to her fancy, but could also note Powhatan’s expression as he passed judgment on the prisoner.

With inscrutable reserve and majestic dignity the great ruler bowed as the captive was led before his rustic throne, where he reclined in a gorgeous robe of raccoon-skins. On either side of the Council Hall sat rows of dusky men and women, with their heads and shoulders painted red, some of the women wearing garments trimmed with the white down from birds’ breasts, while others wore long chains of white beads about their necks.

It was a picturesque sight for English eyes, and fearful though he was of foul play, the Captain could not but appreciate the brilliant mingling of gay colors and dark faces. As he stood before the Chief, there was a clapping of hands to call an Indian woman, the Queen of the Appamattock, who brought water to wash the captive’s hands, while another brought a bunch of feathers to dry them on. “What next?” Captain Smith wondered as he watched further preparations being made, evidently for a feast, of which he was soon asked to partake.

Under the circumstances his appetite was not keen, but he felt obliged to pretend to a relish that he did not feel, and while he was eating his eyes lighted up with pleasure as he saw by her father’s side–though he did not know then of the relationship–the little Indian girl whose interest in him had been so apparent when he saw her in the village. He dared not smile in response to her vivid glance, but his gaze lingered long on the vision of youth and loveliness, and he turned back to his meal with a better appetite.

The feast at an end, Powhatan called his councilors to his side, and while they were in earnest debate Captain Smith knew only too well that his fate was hanging in the balance. At last a stalwart brave arose and spoke to the assemblage. The captive, so he said, was known to be the leading spirit among the white settlers whose colony was too near the Indians’ homes to please them, also in his expedition in search of corn he had killed four Indian warriors with “mysterious weapons which spoke with the voice of thunder and breathed the lightning,” and he had been spying on their land, trying to find some secret means by which to betray them. With him out of the way their country would be freed from a dangerous menace, therefore he was condemned to death.

Doomed to die! Although he did not understand their words, there was no misunderstanding their intention. Immediately two great stones were rolled into the hall, to the feet of Powhatan, and the Captain was seized roughly, dragged forward and forced to lie down in such a position that his head lay across the stones. Life looked sweet to him as he reviewed it in a moment of quick survey while waiting for the warriors’ clubs to dash out his brains. He closed his eyes. Powhatan gave the fatal signal–the clubs quivered in the hands of the executioners. A piercing shriek rang out, as Pocahontas darted from her father’s side, sprang between the uplifted clubs of the savages and the prostrate Captain, twining her arms around his neck and laying her own bright head in such a position that to kill the captive would be to kill the Werowance’s dearest daughter.

With horror at this staying of his royal purpose, and at the sight of his child with her arms around the white man’s neck, Powhatan stared as if at a hideous vision, and closed his ears to the sound of her voice as her defiant Indian words rang out: